Emergence and spread of SARS-CoV-2 lineage B.1.620 with variant of concern-like mutations and deletions.
Distinct SARS-CoV-2 lineages, discovered through various genomic surveillance initiatives, have emerged during the pandemic following unprecedented reductions in worldwide human mobility. We here describe a SARS-CoV-2 lineage - designated B.1.620 - discovered in Lithuania and carrying many mutations and deletions in the spike protein shared with widespread variants of concern (VOCs), including E484K, S477N and deletions HV69Δ, Y144Δ, and LLA241/243Δ. As well as documenting the suite of mutations this lineage carries, we also describe its potential to be resistant to neutralising antibodies, accompanying travel histories for a subset of European cases, evidence of local B.1.620 transmission in Europe with a focus on Lithuania, and significance of its prevalence in Central Africa owing to recent genome sequencing efforts there. We make a case for its likely Central African origin using advanced phylogeographic inference methodologies incorporating recorded travel histories of infected travellers.
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